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Genoa fault a Valley disaster looking for a time to happen

by Kurt Hildebrand

A magnitude 7 earthquake along the Genoa fault could kill as many as 27 Douglas County residents and leave as many as 400 households in need of shelter.

On Tuesday, the University of Nevada Reno held a press conference to discuss Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology’s earthquake loss-estimation report.



According to State Geologist Jon Price an earthquake in Nevada will occur and the chance for death and destruction is substantial.

“But there is something we can do about it now,” he said. “What is clear from earthquakes in California where there was a lot of preparedness is that lives can be saved and property damage can be minimized, if mitigating steps are taken.”



The Bureau of Mines ran Nevada counties through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s computer modeling to estimate losses Nevada counties could suffer if an earthquake occurred near the county seat.

Damage estimates were based on the 2000 Census, and on distribution of population provided by the state and county.

According to the scenario, the earthquake would be centered between Muller and Mottsville lanes along Foothill Road. The quake would be shallow and rupture a 50-kilometer stretch of the fault.

The number of people killed depends on what time the earthquake occurs. Should the quake occur at 2 a.m., nine people would be killed, five would be seriously injured and 38 would require hospitalization.

However, the loss of life would be much greater if the quake occurred at 2 p.m. or 5 p.m., with an estimated 27 people losing their lives in either case.

With a 2 p.m. time, 15 people would receive severe injuries and 84 would require hospitalization.

If the quake occurred at 5 p.m. there would be more critical injuries, mostly as a result of traffic accidents caused by the quake. The model predicts 42 severe injuries and 85 moderate.

According to the model, 5,333 of Douglas County’s 17,000 buildings would receive at least moderate damage. An estimated 382 buildings would be damaged beyond repair. The vast majority of these buildings would be single family homes or other residential structures. Four churches, 18 industrial buildings and 83 commercial buildings would receive moderate or greater damage.

Since most of the damage would be suffered by homes, the vast majority of the damage would be to wooden structures, with manufactured homes coming in a distant second.

The earthquake would damage one school and two fire stations.

The model predicts that of Douglas County’s 29 bridges, nine would suffer moderate damage and four would be destroyed.

Water pipelines would experience 344 breaks and 1,374 leaks from the earthquake. Natural gas lines would suffer 290 breaks and 1,162 leaks.

According to the model, 10,606 homes or more than half would be without drinking water on the first day and 5,820 homes would be without water after a week. Electricity to the 6,075 homes without power after the earthquake would be restored more quickly, with 3,653 households without power at day 3 and 1,457 without power a week after the quake.

The model predicts that five fires will start as a result of the earthquake and the fires will displace about 66 people and do $4 million in damage.

The earthquake will displace 413 households, of which 93 people will seek out temporary shelters.

According to the report, there are 17,000 buildings in the county with a total replacement value of $3.128 billion.